Book Review: Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)-Neil Shah


Disclaimer: All the copyrights belong to the respective author/s of the book. The purpose of the book summary and review is to promote the book and share some of the great points from the work.

Cool Bluez Rating (5.5/10)

There is no sound scientific evidence for Neurolinguistic Progaming (NLP). The book, however is a good read for understanding the psychology, behaviour and exploring different strategies to communicate with different people. Other positive aspects of the writing include understanding what motivates different people, setting effective goals and strategies to achieve the goals.

Selected Points From the Book

Neurolinguistic Programming refers to the three most important facets in creating our human experience: neurology, language and programming.

The neurological system regulates how our bodies function, language determines how we interact and communicate with other people, and our programming determines the images and models of the world we create. NLP describes the relationship between the mind and language (linguistic) and how they impact on our body and behavior.

’Part of me wants to do this, and part of me wants to do that.’ In NLP this is called incongruity’. No part of us is considered dark or evil in NLP. Every part has a positive intention and a useful purpose.

The common assumption is that words are just describing meanings. But the truth is that they are creating your reality.

How you communicate must be constanly adjusted so the message you give is the one that is received.

If we model the thinking, behavior and actions of people who have already succeeded in a given area, we can achieve similar results.

We always make the best choices available to us. These choices are based on our experiences. More and better experiences allow for more choices. If you have had only one relationship and it ended pain¬fully, when you meet someone new you may subconsciously associate a relationship with pain.

The people who are most effective are the ones who have a map of the world that allows them to perceive the greatest number of available choices and perspectives. NLP is a way of enriching the choices that you have and perceive as available in the world around you. Excellence comes from having many choices. Wisdom comes from having multiple perspectives.

If you focus on the pleasure of the outcome rather than the activities that you associate with pain, you’re much more likely to commit to regular action to achieve that goal.

The brain doesn’t have the capacity to think in the negative.

If you continually tell yourself, “1 want to lose weight”, your brain will focus on the word ‘weight’ much more than the word ‘lose’. The better strategy would be to have a ‘target weight’ on which to focus. That way the objective is to shape the body to its potential rather than losing something NLP teaches you to always use positive language, focusing on what you want, not what you fear.

If you only have one way of doing something, you’re a robot. If you have two ways of doing something, you have a dilemma. You need at least three ways of doing something before you have the beginnings of some real flexibility.

You are more likely to buy from, agree with, and support someone you can relate to than someone you can’t-people like people who are like themselves.

Rapport is the ability to enter someone else’s world, to make them feel that you understand them, that you have a strong common bond. Rapport is the ability to see each other’s point of view (not necessarily to agree with it), to be on the same wavelength and to appreciate each other’s feelings.

Rapport involves showing a genuine interest, observing how a person reacts to what you say, and identifying key words or phrases used. Rapport occurs not only in what you say,but in your actions and body language, which usually happen subconsciously.

The process of establishing rapport needs to start with the first handshake.

If you want to create rapport with someone, you have to enter their world. Once you enter their world you can see things from their perspective, feel the way they do and from there enhance the whole relationship.

The process by which you enter somebody else’s world is called mirroring. Mirroring is basically copying the other person’s body language breathing and voice patterns to become like them. It’s literally becoming a mirror image of the other person. When you do this, you both both feel like you’ve known each other forever.

Breathing is a very important part of a mental state. Observe the other person’s breathing and try to match it.

Tonality is something that we match rather than mirror.

Another useful technique is to match the last three or four words they say, using the same pitch, rate, timbre and volume as them.

Add in matching pitch, volume and tempo and you’re well on your way to improving your likeability .

Having established rapport by pacing,you can gradually lead the person the way you want to — into a certain voice mode, facial expression or posture.

Keep maintaining rapport, and then anything is possible.

You can determine the extent to which you have rapport-whether you’re connecting, whether they’re paying attention. This paying attention to the results of your actions is called sensory acuity.

People tell how they are processing information with the kind of words they use, the way they breathe, their tone of voice, and the way they move their eyes.

Each of us has a thinking preference — to ‘think’ in images, sounds, or feelings, for instance. What’s more, your speech is an expression of the way you think.

The tiny changes detected on the outside are indicators of what’s going on inside the person.

Learn to pay attention to various aspects of voice quality and appreciate that any change in quality can represent a change on the inside of thinking and feeling.

As you talk to the other person, notice the tempo and tone of his or her voice. As you talk, subtly adjust your voice until the tone and tempo of your voice are as close as possible to the other person’s.
Notice the quality of communication: is the flow of information smooth or difficult? Is there a feeling of rapport or not?

Try mismatching. After a few minutes of smooth, flowing conversation, alter your voice to be very different from other person’s in tone and tempo. Notice what impact this change has on the quality of the communication.

The ongoing process of mirroring; or matching is known as pacing.

If someone is extremely aggressive and talking loudly, communicating to them in a whisper isn’t going to get their attention. You may need to match their tone and volume first, before slowly starting to speak more softly and calmly and thus leading them to communicating in that way (Not always applicable)

Research has shown that in the understanding a received communication.
7% is contained in the words used
38% is contained in the tone grid style of voice
55% is contained in the physiology (or body language) of the deliverer.

In particular you need to focus on the desired outcome or purpose of the communication and the extent to which this is achieved:
-What exactly do you want to achieve?
-How will you know that your communication has been successful?
-What will be the sensory evidence-what will you see, hear and feel?

When you’re with people and talking to them, even your most positive and encouraging words will only be believed if your body language (physiology) and voice tone support your words.

It’s important that you always maintain a level of respect and dignity in your choice of words, so as not to offend the other person. If you come across as too aggressive or too pushy, they will most likely run away from you.

A persuasion pattern essentially comprises three parts: a frame, a response and a re frame.

The first thing you will notice when you see two people together who really get along well is how much like each other they are.

Our emotional state is closely tied to our physical state.

If someone is sitting with their arms and lags crossed and wearing a frown on their face, you can safely assume that they’re not going to be very receptive to what you have to say. If, on the other hand, they have an open posture (i.e. arms and legs in fairly relaxed open positions), then they’re going to be more open to what you have to say.

Language patterns, known in NLP as meta programs, develop throughout your life.

Meta programs are patterns of motivation and working. They drive where you put your attention, what you respond to, and what motivates you. They shape how you interact with the people and environment around you. In order to appreciate the role of meta programs its essential that we understand the relationship between perceptions, thoughts and emotions.

People create their own model of their world by filtering their experiences in 3 different ways:
-Deletion: Selectively paying attention to certain information experienced through the senses yet excluding other information.
-Distortion: Altering information that you receive to fit in with your beliefs or preconceived ideas.
-Generalization: Placing an experience in a category or group. For example, saying, “I never win any thing in the National Lottery” after buying tickets for a few weeks.

People with similar language patterns often show similar patterns of behavior. For meta programs to be effective, you have to use words and phrases appropriate for the other person – saying the right thing, in the right way at the right time.

Pinpoint which meta program another person usually adopts, and phrase your communication using the same one. This can help the person hear and understand what you’re saying faster and more effectively.

Here are some examples of the numerous meta programs

-General/specific (also known as big chunk/small chunk or detail/global): How people operate at their beat, based on what is, for them, the right amount of information. Someone running the general program is likely to work well with an overview of a situation. Someone with the specific pattern requires much more information and detail.

People with a general pattern prefer it when you keep the detail to a minimum. They like an overview of what you want to convey. When you’re communicating with someone with a specific pattern, it helps if you use words such as ‘precisely’ or ‘exactly’. Present information in a linear, step- by-step way.

To influence someone effectively by email, notice how much detail goes Into their own emails. If you want someone to approve something and their emails are very short, keep yours short too and detail free. Just offer a concept or outline If someone sends a detailed email to you requesting information, respond with lots of specifics.

-Proactive/reactive: People who operate in proactive mode are the ultimate self-motivators, the people who are regularly one step ahead. On the downside they will often ignore the analysis and planning that are needed when making important decisions. In reactive mode, people are often noted for their love of collecting information and careful planning before doing anything at all.

In proactive mode, collecting information is done as part of an overall planning process; in reactive mode its more likely to be used as a delaying tactic because they would really rather do nothing at all. That is to say, to avoid commitment and responsibility, not because they are lazy. These are the analysits and researchers-they may let others take the lead while they wait and evaluate the best course of action.

Proactive need very little motivation, though they can be turned off if they perceive that their initiatives are heing unduly criticized. Reactive mode is better suited for group situations, where people have very little individual responsibility, and where they have a clear idea of what they are required to do and why.

-Moving towards/away from: Generally we take action because:
• We have a desire to move towards something: perhaps a goal, dream or target.
• We want to move away from something: for example a challenge, a problem or a difficult situation.

When asked, ‘What’s important to you about a car?’, a ‘towards’ person will answer with what it can give them: speed, status, the opportunity to impress other people, etc. An ‘away from’ person will respond by what a car will keep them from: “It won’t breakdown, it’s not expensive, I don’t want to spend huge amounts of money on petrol and maintenance’, etc. “

You’ll note the same when asking, ‘What’s important in relationships?’
Towards: Fun, connection, love, affinity, etc.
Away from: Not an alcoholic, doesn’t scream, doesn’t ‘play games’, no drama, etc. 

If you are motivated by a ‘towards’ pattern, you will generally be more focused on what you want. You will find it easier to focus on the benefits of the activity. A person in towards mode thinks in positive terms, identifying what they want to achieve. If the towards attitude is too strong,it can see, aggressive and insensitive rather than assertive.

If you run a strong ‘away from’ pattern, you’re more likely to focus on what could go wrong in a particular situation. Any dead lines or priorities that you have agreed are likely to be forgotten as you troubleshoot the latest issue to emerge. You’ll find that you’re much clearer about what you’re trying to avoid than about what you want to achieve, and this inability to express a positive desire can make it very hard for you to formulate any kind of outcome.

It can be assumed that a towards pattern will be more useful in many situations where we’re focused on positive matters, on goals and not on obstacles. On the other hand, the ability to perceive the potential obstacles and difficulties is also a valuable one.

For motivation purposes, a person in ‘towards’ mode needs to be pointed in the right direction and be clear about the reward for achieving their goal (with occasional discreet checking to ensure that they stay on track). A person in ‘away from’ mode can be motivated by threats, however be careful, if the threats become too intense, they become afraid to do anything at all.

Energy flows where attention goes. We tend to get what we focus on. If we focus on our problems, we get more problems and we tend to attract more challenges. When we focus on what we’re grateful for and what’s working well for us, we will find reasons for success and gratitude. This has been labelled the ‘Law of Attraction’.

-Options/procedures:(Options) You may be very good at drawing up procedures for getting the job done, but you have no interest in following the procedure yourself. You initiate a new project with bravado but may not ever complete it.

If you believe a ‘right’ way to do things exists, you like your work to haye a start and an end point – basically you get things done. You can find having too many choices about how to handle things difficult. You take action when you have the comfort of clear instructions or recommendations.

Options people enjoy breaking or bending the rules. Exploring new ideas and possibilities is of great interest to them. To motivate or influence these people, use words such as: opportunity, alternatives, break the rules, flexibility, variety, unlimited possibilities,expand your choices and options.

Procedures people like to follow set rules and processes. Once they understand a procedure they will repeat it over and over again they have great difficulty developing new processes, and without a clearly defined procedure they feet lost or stuck. They are motivated bywords such as correct vuay. tried and true, first..then..lastly.

Options mode people have a strong streak of creativity, which they may find it difficult to control. They are often self-motivated

Procedures people find choices distracting and given half a chance will follow a set policy. They are motivated if they are given detailed instructions, the need to make choices is minimized, and they can earn praise when they adhere to the standard procedures.

-Internal frame of reference/external frame of reference: The phrase ‘frame of reference’ refers to where you put your attention.

When you reference externally, you get your sense of self from things, fronts, and circumstances outside of yourself. If you’re externally referenced, you will define yourself by your title, status, car, home, where you go on holiday, past, future, parents, children. needs, or condition.

When you reference internally, life is much simpler. You know what you want to contribute.

If you ask someone “How do you know when you’ve done well at a given task?”, they may answer by other people’s reactions (external), or that they base success on how they feel (internal).

Internal people have difficulty accepting other people’s opinions and outside direction, even if they are good ideas. You can motivate them by the following words: you know what’s best only you can decide, it’s up to you, I need your opinion.

External people may have difficulty starting or continuing an activity without external validation. They are motivated by words such as: according to the experts, others will think highly of you, you will be recognized for your efforts.

-Time orientation: In time/through time: In time describes someone who is caught up in the stream of events in their lives. They can only ‘see’ events in the immediate future and the immediate past. This makes it difficult to plan ahead and estimate.

Someone in through time are better able to view the past and plan ahead and see how events are developing. They may have difficulty concentrating on the matter in hand.

As a general rule of persuasion, you must use a person’s existing meta program to persuade them of your outcomes.

If we recognize which filters people are using, we can anticipate how they’re likely to react to, what we do and say – this is where meta models are useful.

When an individual is asked to describe their problems, they will usually constrain their choice of words, modify, generalize or remove certain information that was part of the actual experience.

How often have you heard expressions like ‘You can’t do it like that’ or ‘That’s impossible’? These are just as restricting, if unchallenged, as ‘never’ or ‘always’. They are clarified by asking the question: ‘What would happen if you did?’, or ‘What exactly is stopping you?’ In doing this you’ll be able to distinguish between what is really impossible, and what is a type of generalization.

People respond to events based on their internal pictures, sounds and feelings. The meta model is a method for helping someone go from information-poor word maps back to the specific sensory experiences that they’re based on.

‘Mind reading’ and ‘projected mind reading’ are classic recipes for disagreements and conflict.

Most of what we do involves other people, and so- called ‘successful’ people seem to be good communicators.

You need not build your own outcomes on untruths, be they presupposition, mind reading, or wrong cause and effect relationships. Nor need you be tricked into making meaningless comparisons. When you formulate your goals and plans you will instinctively avoid nominalizations and start using words that have specific, motivating meaning for you.

“You can’t do that” might be something you say to yourself far more than it’s said to you by others – and, you’re far more likely to believe yourself.

Gather Information: By challenging deletions, the meta model recovers important information that has been left out of the surface structure.

Clarify the meaning: It gives a systematic framework asking: “What exactly do you mean?”. When you don’t understand what another person means, that is your cue to ask meta model questions.

Identify limits: By challenging the rules and generalizations that you’re applying to your own thinking the meta model questions show where you’re limiting yourself and how vou could be freer and more creative.

Embedded commands are patterns of language that bypass conscious reasoning and speak directly to the subconscious mind. Embedded commands influence people at the subconscious level. This allows you to direct people to take specific actions. People simply begin to get in their minds that they should do whatever it is you want them to do.

Goal setting is a prerequisite to success in most areas of life. Yet 95% of people still don’t set goals.

The NLP goal-setting model our goal to be sensory-specific. For the brain not only uses the sensory system, it also uses our word meanings that drive the sensory system.

State the goal in positive terms, specify the goal in sensory-based terms, specify the goal in a way that you find compelling, ensure that the goal can be self-initiated and maintained, state the context of the goal, state the resources needed to achieve the goal, how will you evidence success?


The six- step process below is a method for formulating a goal and then checking to ascertain if the goal will work.

1. Where do you want to be, or what do you want to achieve? Answer this question against each goal.
2. How will you know when you have succeeded?
3. What will the effects be on you and those around you?
4. What resources do you need to succeed? Do you have the resources or access to the resources?
5. What has prevented you from doing anything about this before? How can you stop it happening this time?
6. Final check-is this all you can achieve, want or desire?


SOFI stands for Strengths (What are your skills/strengths that can help achieve the goal?), Options (What options can you to achieve the goal?), Fears (What scares you from working towards the goal?) and Impediments (The obstacles/hurdles to achieve the goal).

Once a goal has been through the SOFI process, all the hidden reasons for not achieving the goal tend to come to the surface.This enables you to challenge, support or encourage yourself towards goal accomplishment.




1. Know your outcome: NLP focuses on knowing your outcome – the result that you want to achieve. Any successful person knows what he or she wants.
2. Take action: Main characteristic of high achievers is that they actually start to do the things that others just talk and dream about.
3. Pay attention to the results of your action: Whether your actions are bringing you near to achieving your outcome. You also need to spot the signals, or negative feedback, that show when you’re off course.
4. Keep adjusting your course until you arrive at your destination: If at first you don’t succeed, try something different.

There’s always a price to pay for getting anything worthwhile assured that your investment will be repaid many times over as with other demanding activities, there can be almost as much pleasure in the journey as in reaching the destination.

Our subconscious can’t differentiate between what’s real and what’s perceived, and if we can create something vividly enough subconsciously, it becomes very real for us -and even our bodies will react to accommodate the new reality.

Visualization may be used to create dreams, imagine outcomes, and help people achieve desired results.

NLP involves using a combination of memory and fantasy in the creation of positive mental images for the purpose of focusing your conscious and unconscious mind on a particular goal.

Other strategies include the New Behavior Generator strategy, in which key elements of the desired performance are first described verbally. The linguistic description forms the basis for constructing a dissociated visual image of the desired actions. You then imagine enacting the performance you have fantasized from an associated position, and check your feelings of confidence and congruence about doing the imagined behavior.

An anchor is a stimulus that reminds you of events and can change your state positively or negatively.

The more nerves there are in the area you use for the anchor, the more successful its likely to be.

An internal anchor is generated in your mind i.e. a visual image that evokes certain feelings. An external anchor can be triggered when, for example, you hear a piece of music that reminds you of a lovely holiday or experience.

Generally, NLP works with only three modalities: visual, auditory and kinaesthetic.

One of the core activities in NLP is the study of people who are recognized (by their peers) as being excellent in some field of activity. The purpose of this studying is to identify what such people do differently from their colleagues that gives them such outstanding results. This is often referred to as to ‘the difference that makes the difference’.


There are two types of modelling used in NLP: observational modelling and adoptive modelling.

Observational modelling: Creating a model of another person by copying them in some way.
Adoptive modelling: Describing a skill in a way that it can be taught to others.

Effective modelling must take account of three aspects of the subject being modeled:
a) behavior: what the expert does;
b) beliefs: the ‘mental maps’ that are the foundation for this behavior.
c) values: the criteria by which the expert decides on any particular course of action.

Remember, NLP Is about modelling the best – so set your sights high: you’ll be surprised who’ll see you if you come over genuinely
interested. And there are lots of others to see if they don’t.

Changing the content visually like this, especially in humorous ways, can make a massive difference to the state of mind a memory creates.

The page is a part of Cool Bluez (2018)



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